The wine news this week has had a good few bits and pieces about a bloke called Robert Parker moving on from reviewing the wines of Bordeaux. Over the years this guy had grown in influence and reknown and effectively became the most influential wine critic in the world. One word from him made or broke an entire vintage of a region and it was with Bordeaux that he’ll always be most closely linked as price swings in these particular wines were so heavily linked with what came out of his mouth. News of him moving on is a big deal!!
Big bad Bob has been a controversial figure. The reaction of French winemakers to an American holding the sway over what they produced hasn’t always sat that well. JB bought me a present a while back, a French satirical comic book called “The Seven Deadly Sins of Robert Parker”. Fierce critics accused him and a few influential lads and lasses in Bordeaux of rigging scores, being on the take, and just downright losing their moral compass a bit. It’s a bit harsh, but you stick yourself out there, someone’s going to have a pop eventually. As with most things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
His points system is now the benchmark. He introduced a 100 point score system based on the US high school marking system. So many people use it these days. Personally I think it’s a bit funny. I had this chat with the American bloggers in Bordeaux a couple of weeks back. Basically the scores only range from 80 to 100. What’s the point in the first 80% of the range if you never use it? But you try giving a wine a mark of less than 80, see if you get invited back to taste again next year!
Regardless of what you think of his legacy though, it’s still going to leave a big pair of shoes to fill. And who’s going to fill them? Well it’s an Essex boy called Neal Martin. I’ve only met Neal the once, and he’s a very nice fella. And my life he knows his beans! He’s spent the past few years becoming the number one expert on all things Bordeaux, and he’s got every chance of taking over the mantle with success.
So I think it’s time to wish Mr Parker an enjoyable retirement and Neal Martin all the best for the years and vintages to come.